God has given to each of us, the ability to make choices in our lives. Along with that ability comes responsibility. We are then accountable for our actions, whatever they are. We can live by the pattern God has given us, or what the world has to offer. How important that decision is, when it comes to our eternity. We understand that the lives we live need to be patterned after Christ. So, what does that entail?
Jesus knew the scriptures and so should we. Jesus knew how to treat people, and so should we. Paul writes in Gal 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: against such things there is no law.” Our responsibility is to put these nine fruits of the Spirit into our lives.
Love, it seeks to do others good and never seeks to do them harm. Joy, this joy does not depend upon outward circumstances but upon, one’s faith and trust in God. Peace, when one has peace, it is easy for him be a peacemaker and live at peace with all men. Patience, it is keeping the right attitude towards those who annoy, oppose or ridicule. Kindness comes out of a loving heart. Goodness, to be good to others means one helps and aids others, and is generous. Faithfulness means loyalty, fidelity and trustworthiness which includes being faithful and true to God. Gentleness, it can be a quiet spirit which suffers wrong without resentment. And Self-control, this is a person who is able to control his life by principles of right instead of by his desires and wants. Let us all make our light shine in a world of darkness and be responsible for our actions.
The year is now 2018 and we are getting closer to being in our new building and we are all looking forward to that day. We will have to get up on Sunday morning, yes we all have been sleeping in later than before the building was sold. We have only been meeting once on the Lord’s Day, that will change, hallelujah! We will need to change our habits! There is one thing for sure we all will be ready to make the change. Most of us have always spent most of our Sundays in the church building, I am ready.
Now we need to take advantage of our new building to bring souls in, new souls that have never heard the good news. There will be many challenges when we do bring new folks in. Many may have teachings in their lives that are different than what the Bible teaches. We don't need to run them off with unkind words, we will need to teach, love and care for them. We need to watch what we say and how we talk to them, souls are important to God! We now have maybe 10 or 12 weeks ahead of us to prepare. We are about ready to meet people we have never before had any contact with. As I think about the love that does happen here and who we are all very close to, will that same love be shown to the new people we meet? I would encourage all of us extend our hand of fellowship to all. Don’t stay in the groups of people you are comfortable with but be part of this new challenge that is before us. I do know, that we have a short window of opportunities with some of the people that may come through our doors, let us all be ready.
In the new building we will find new places to sit and new places to go and we will figure out where the classes are. How will the singing sound? Where do we park? No more rushing through all-in-one. I look forward to that day.
As our Nation completes this special period called Thanksgiving, let’s take stock, again, of just a few more things (in addition to those we noted last week) for which we, not just as Americans but as children of God, can be thankful:
1. That our God is THE GOD –JEHOVAH, YAHWEH - Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Controller, OMNI;
2. That we are created in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).
3. That the Spirit of God dwells within us (Romans 8:11 & Galatians 4:6);
4. That God hears and answers our prayers(Prov.15:8&29; Matt.21:22; Jas.5:15-16);
5. That we are children of God, part of His family, and members of His body, the
church of our Savior, Jesus the Christ (Rom.8: Col.1:24; Acts13:26);
6. For our physical family - remember that God instituted family (Gen.1-4);
7. For our material blessings because they, too, come from God (Matt.6:31-34);
8. That we are citizens of a kingdom whose King gave His life(2Thes1:5;1Tim1:15ff)
9. For the blood of Jesus - seal of the New Covenant - that continues to cleanse our
sins (Matt.26:28 and 1stJohn 1:7);
10. For eternal life, the gift of grace from God extended to us because of our faithful
obedience to Him, through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, His son (Eph.2:8).
This body of believers has endured some tough times over the past couple of years. As things were "set in order" and as we have endeavored to move forward, our patience has been tested many times. Throughout, however, we have maintained a persistent attitude to stand in the truth of God's word and not allow the actions of others to sway us from staying the course. Now, our patience and endurance are beginning to "pay off" and we will see things come to fruition very soon. Because we are family, we will be able to endure all things (1Cor.13:7) and do great things (Phil.2:14&4:13) for our Awesome God as we stay united around His Truth and allow our Savior to be our one - and only - LORD! As we do, let's keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul in Eph. 3:20-21: "Always giving THANKS FOR ALL THINGS in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ to God and the Father, and be subject to one another in the fear (reverence) of God (Christ)." Let's remember ALWAYS whose and what we are as:
We sing the old song Trust and Obey. This old song is very dear to many of us who have sung this song many time in our lives. The chorus in the song says, “For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” When we say we trust in what the song says, does that mean we have complete trust in what we are singing? Do we really think about what we are saying in the song? Do we trust in what we are singing? When we sing to our God it means we put our hearts in it and give full attention to what we are doing, no other ideas in our head but to praise our wonderful and loving God. “I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised.” What a great blessing it is to sing songs of praise to our Lord and to trust and obey. Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.” Amen!!! Obey is the other part to this song. If we don’t obey then we really don’t believe. That would be a sad condition to be in and I am sure no one wants to be in that position. So, when we sing that song Trust and Obey we remember that trust and obeying need to go hand in hand. To be happy in Jesus there is no other way and likewise the Lord will not be happy with us if we don’t trust and obey. Now that is not where we need to be. Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the apostles answered, We must obey God rather than men.” Amen!!
Did you know that thanksgiving, or one of its synonyms, is one of the more common words or themes in the Bible, appearing over two-hundred times throughout scriptures? While our society and culture emphasize being thankful for who and what we are as a nation once a year, it is apparent from scripture that being thankful or grateful is an attitude that we Christians should exhibit year-round. Listed below are some of these passages as a means of reflecting on what we should be thankful for and developing a more consistent attitude of thankfulness (I'll finish up the rest next week). The passages are in no particular order nor any level of importance, but, simply, are some that I find encouraging and that, hopefully, will encourage you as well. May God be glorified and honored!
Psalm 95:2&3 – Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…For the LORD is the great God and the great King above all…
100th Psalm – Make a joyful shout to the LORD…serve the LORD with gladness…Know that the
LORD, He is God; it is He Who has made us…We are His people…Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
Heb. 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace [show gratitude], by which we serve God acceptably with reverence…
Col. 3:15-17 – And let the peace of God [Christ] rule in your hearts…and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…with grace [thankfulness] in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
2nd Sam. 22:50 – Therefore, I will give thanks to You, O LORD…and sing praises to Your name. Psalm 9:1&2 – I will give thanks to You, O LORD with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous wonders…I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
And one that I believe is appropriate now that our Nation has recently voted in a new President and administration:
1st Tim. 2:1-4: Therefore, I exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men…and all who are in authority [prominent positions], that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence [dignity]. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
On behalf of Chuck, David, and Jack, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving Day holiday period and encourage us all to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving throughout the year. We want you to know how much we love and appreciate each, and every, one of you. We are so very, very thankful for this congregation of God's people, whom we are honored to serve!
The Ripon Church of Christ: A Family of God Rooted in Christ
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366